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Port operator to distribute first dividends in 2017

Shipping containers at the Phnom Penh Autonomous Port in 2008.
Shipping containers at the Phnom Penh Autonomous Port in 2008. Heng Chivoan

Port operator to distribute first dividends in 2017

Phnom Penh Autonomous Port (PPAP), which debuted on Cambodia’s stock market last December, announced that it will hold off on distributing its first dividend payment to shareholders until March or April 2017, according to a filing issued on Friday.

The company will tack a one-tenth cash dividend onto next year’s payout in lieu of the late 2015 financial earnings accounted for since the company went public, it said.

The state-owned port operator raised $5.2 million in its initial public offering of a 20 per cent stake on the Cambodian Securities Exchange (CSX), promising its private shareholders a 5 per cent dividend yield on the initial share price of 5,120 riel ($1.26) annually for five years following its listing.

Han Kyung Tae, CEO of Yuanta Securities (Cambodia), the IPO’s sole underwriter, said that the decision to distribute dividends in early 2017 was made because the company listed late in the 2015 financial year.

“The company explained to the shareholders that because of the December listing, they wanted a full year of activity before the first full dividend would be paid,” he said, adding that shareholders were also presented a copy of the company’s audited 2015 annual financial statement.

According to this statement, PPAP’s revenue rose to $15.1 million in 2015, a 14.5 per cent increase over 2014 driven by a surge of construction material imports and growing rice exports. Additionally, the port handled 144,813 TEUs in 2015, up 8.3 per cent compared to a year earlier.

According to Han, the 2015 dividend payment will be combined with 2016 distribution, in the format of an added one-tenth to the 5 per cent minimum guarantee to account for last December’s earnings.

Phanin Hei, director of planning and marketing at PPAP, said that the five-year guarantee will cover annual financial results from 2016 to 2021.

She said the reason for the decision to hold off on distributing the dividend until 2017 was because the port needed to retain earnings to push forward with its phase-two expansion plan, which aims to double the port’s TEU capacity from the current level of 150,000, to 300,000 TEUs by 2018.

“We need to use the proceeds from the IPO and our earnings for expansion and to purchase additional heavy equipment,” she said. Svay Hay, CEO of brokerage firm Acleda Securities, said waiting for the first full year following a listing to distribute dividends was a normal practice for listed companies around the globe.

“The first two firms listed on the CSX distribute their dividend based on their listing date, while the third firm, PPAP, distributes based on a calendar year,” he said.

Hay added that the one-tenth cash dividend add-on was generous given that the period covered in 2015 amounted to less than a month.

“This [addition] will build more investor confidence,” he said.

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